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Cardiovascular Disease: Stroke or Heart Attack? Know The Difference

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I have often heard people talk of stroke and heart attacks as though the two were interchangeable terms and one is the other. I have done a quick view of what the two actually mean. Though a stroke and a heart attack are both cardiovascular diseases, they affect different parts of our body.

A stroke or a cerebrovascular accident is the damage of brain tissue caused by interruption of the blood supply to the brain. This is due to a blood vessel bursting or to blocking by a clot. (1)

A heart attack or a myocardial infarction is the damage of a part of the heart muscle, caused by the interruption of the blood supply to a part of the heart muscle. This is due to a blood clot blocking the flow of blood through a coronary artery. (2)

Symptoms are said to vary between the genders, and at times the symptoms of stroke and a heart attack may not be definite or classical, and may be vague at best. Events may even occur asymptomatically.

A stroke victim could experience any or combinations of the symptoms, depending on the location of brain affected and severity of the condition, like: (3)

• Severe headache
• Alteration in the level of alertness
• Changes in hearing or taste
• Disorientation, clumsiness
• Loss of memory
• Difficulty swallowing
• Difficulty performing tasks involving cognitive skills – reading, writing, remembering
• Dizziness and loss of balance
• Lack of control over the bladder or bowels
• Muscle weakness in the face, arm, or leg (usually just on one side)
• Numbness or tingling on one side of the body
• Personality, mood, or emotional changes
• Problems with eyesight, including decreased vision, double vision, or total loss of vision
• Trouble speaking or understanding others who are speaking

The victim of a heart attack could experience any or combinations of the symptoms depending on the severity of the attack, like: (4)

• Discomfort and pain in the center of the chest – squeezing, pressure, fullness, tightness etc
• Shortness of breath
• Pain in the jaw, neck or shoulders
• Pain in the arms
• Nausea
• Light-headedness
• Weakness and fatigue
• Palpitations

The diagnosis for the two are also different:

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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